How Eminem Makes Me a Better Writer

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I grew up in a nightmare. Yes, we were that family. Drama, fights, threats, suicide attempts, break ups, make ups, then wash, rinse, repeat. I’m not that person anymore and we are no longer that family. We’re healthy. We love, laugh and there’s never a raised voice. We value peace, and peace is wonderful in life.

In fiction, it’s death.

As an artist, sometimes my domestication scares me.

I listen to all kinds of music. I have everything from Pavarotti to Coltrane to Ozzy to Eminem on my iPod. I think that’s because real music, great music is easy to recognize whether its in the form of an aria, a riff or a rap. When I was on Whitbey Island someone mentioned how poetry has really suffered in modern years, but I disagree. I think its changed forms if we are willing to be open-minded. I believe rap is a modern reinvention of poetry and no, it isn’t flowery and enlightened. It’s ugly, dark, and often offensive.

But so is life.

Art isn’t always supposed to be pretty. It’s to challenge us, make us think, shove us out of our comfort zones and challenge what we believe.

Now I’ll be blunt. There is a lot of rap music that’s junk (but that isn’t exclusive to rap). But, beneath a lot of the profanity-laden misogynistic drivel we see some amazing pieces of urban artistry, and I believe they have a lot to teach us if we’ll be open enough to listen. To me, Eminem’s songs strike at the heart of the urban plight, and whether we love him or hate him, his music is powerful.

I only like a handful of Eminem’s songs, but the few I like? I can never listen to enough. They make me emotional every time. Perhaps it’s a tether back to that old life. I don’t know. It permits me to remember what it felt like to be out of control and have no real answers. It puts me back in tune with the craziness that births the best stories.

It would be madness to live my current life this way, but as an artist I DO need to remember the crushing weight of a string of bad choices. The fear it ignites. The panic. The dread that makes you chew off your own leg to escape instead of looking for a key. I have to feel that again for my voice and my characters to be authentic.

So here’s a list of what Eminem has taught me (and I will use some lyrics from my favorite songs Love the Way You Lie and Lose Yourself):

Life is Messy

Good fiction involves a push and pull of a lot of agendas. There are no clean answers, no choices that don’t have consequences. Sometimes there isn’t a right answer, and a protagonist has to merely look for the rightest answer and be brave enough to face what follows (which is what transforms him into a hero).

I can’t tell you what it really is, I can only tell you what it feels like

and right now there’s a steel knife in my windpipe

I can’t breathe but I still fight while I can fight

As long as the wrong feels right it’s like I’m in flight.

High off of love, drunk from my hate

It’s like I’m huffin’ paint and I love it the more I suffer

I suffocate and right before I’m about to drown, she resuscitates me

She *&^%$ hates me, and I love it

Wait, where you going? I’m leaving you. No you ain’t.

Come back, we’re running right back, here we go again.

It’s so insane, ’cause when it’s good it’s goin’ great

I’m Superman with the wind at his back, she’s Lois Lane.

But when it’s bad it’s awful.

I feel so ashamed. (Love the Way You Lie)

In these lyrics we see the push and pull, the tug of feelings of wanting to do what’s right yet always seeming to choose the wrong path. Our characters need to do the same thing. Don’t get me wrong, we don’t need characters that are too dumb to live, but at the same time, if they always say the right things and make the right choices, we can’t relate. We can’t root for them to do better.

Great characters are deeply flawed, but they become heroes because, in spite of the odds, they rise above those flaws and finally DO change. Great characters need (forgivable) flaws.

In Joy Luck Club each of the women suffer from fear; fear of standing up to abuse, fear of wanting, fear of disapproval and this fear generates the story tension.

In The Divine secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood  Vivi (the antagonist)’s childhood is filled with abuse from her crazy Catholic mother who’s jealous of the attention her husband gives Vivi. Vivi also loses her true love in war when she’s only a teen. This fear of being vulnerable later divides her relationship with her daughter, Sidda(protagonist), and it fuels her abusive behavior. She tries to be a good mom and wife, the opposite of her nutso mother, but her fear of being hurt just propels her into another bad choice and another. Can this be repaired?

Great Fiction is Birthed from Poor Choices

Now I know we said things, did things that we didn’t mean

And we fall back into the same patterns, the same routine

But your temper’s just as bad as mine is, you’re same as me

But when it comes to love you’re just as blinded.

Baby please come back, it wasn’t you, Baby it was me

Maybe our relationship isn’t as crazy as it seems.

Maybe that’s what happens when a tornado meets a volcano

All I know is I love you too much to walk away (Love the Way You Lie).

This is the heart of the story, realizing love is there, it’s worth staying, but can it survive before the couple destructs? They have to grow, they must grow or they’re trapped. The conflict arises because no one is making good, sane or healthy choices and that is the beating heart of strong fiction.

Look at your characters. Are they too self-actualized? Too sane? Too level-headed? A lot of the page-turning conflict will be generated by personal agendas and baggage. Dig in to that place that scares you, and that’s where the great stories hide.

What are your character’s secrets? How do those secrets prevent good choices? How does pain from the past make decisions in the present so hard?

In Sworn to Silence the protagonist committed a horrible crime when she was young. Years later, she is the Chief of Police. Her secret keeps her from being able to be forthright in the investigation of a possible serial killer. Her failure to disclose only stalls the investigation as the body count rises, but if she confesses what she did, she could go to jail. The secret tinges her perception and leads her away from the actual killer. Guilt is driving her, not strong investigative instincts.

Great Stories Require High Stakes

Another of my favorite Eminem songs is Lose Yourself. This song is so rich because we feel the pressure to succeed because we know the price of failure.

Mom I love but this trailer’s got to go

I cannot grow old in Salem’s Lot, so here I go, it’s my shot

Feet fail me not, this might be the only opportunity I got.

We know that he feels trapped. He can’t pay the bills and provide for the family. He’s in a trailer and on food stamps and all he knows is there is ONE way of this hell, out of this generational curse. One ticket for him and his family or it’s death, prison or minimum wage slavery. The stakes rise and so does the pressure.

What happens if your protagonist fails? What are the stakes? In Winter’s Bone Ree Dolly’s father cooks meth. When he fails to show up for his court date, the family stands to lose their home and land and be forced out on the street. Ree must find her father, alive or dead to save her mentally ill mother and two young siblings.

Remember, the higher the stakes, the better the story.

Here is the video to Love the Way You Lie (caution: adult situations and language)

What are your thoughts? What songs do you use to remind you of emotions you need for your art? Do you feel song is a powerful tool for writing? I never listen to music while writing. I like quiet. But I DO listen to music as preparation. What about you? Do you also have a weird variety of songs in your collection? What music inspires you?

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of February, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.

At the end of February I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!

January’s WINNER is Yesenia Vargas. Please send your 5000 word Word document to kristen @ wana intl dot com or your query letter or synopsis (limit 750 words). Congratulations!

I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.

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  1. #1 by The Hook on February 4, 2013 - 8:19 am

    I can’t believe I’m first! I never win anything.
    Moving on…

    At the risk of repeating myself, this was brilliant, Kristen! Eminem seems to have touched millions of disenfranchised souls with his body of workk and his raw emtion. People connect with his “tell it like it is” attitude. Youy’re absolutelly right; life is messy and we need to be willing to get our hands dirty to properly convey our creations’ stories.

    Thank you, Kristen. For everything you do and for being you.

    • #2 by Author Kristen Lamb on February 4, 2013 - 8:24 am

      Hey Hon, I need you to resend me your stuff. I changed web providers because my e-mail was getting tossed in the ether. Probably hanging out on Sock Narnia. I sent you an e-mail, but don’t know if you got it. THanks for the comment. I’m glad you don’t think I’m nuts for liking Eminem, LOL.

      • #3 by The Hook on February 4, 2013 - 8:35 am

        I don’t think you’re nuts for admiring Marshall Mathers, Kristen… Your problems go deeper than that!
        KIDDING!

    • #5 by Author Kristen Lamb on February 4, 2013 - 8:26 am

      Never mind. I think I see it :D.

  2. #6 by Debra McKellan on February 4, 2013 - 8:25 am

    Wow. Just wow. lol This was one of the most powerful entries I’ve ever read! Love the Way You Lie is one of my favorite songs of 2012, both versions. My mp3 player isn’t as diverse, but my likes are. :)

  3. #7 by Stan R. Mitchell on February 4, 2013 - 8:28 am

    Yay, Kristen! I knew you were cool, but I would have never guessed you liked Eminem.

    He’s one of my favorite artists and I like probably 75 percent of his stuff. And I think I’m a little weird in that I LOVE to listen to music while I’m writing. Depending on the scene I’m writing, I pick music that’s either angry or violent or sad, and I feed off that music and pour it into that scene.

  4. #8 by moonduster on February 4, 2013 - 8:28 am

    I listen to music when O am not writing and, often, it will strike my muse and I will have to start writing, but I like it quiet when I write. If I listen to music while I write, it can put me in the wrong mood (if the music doesn’t match the scene I’m writing) for my story or it can distract me.(I’m one of those people who can’t keep herself from singing along with songs I know the words too.) :)

  5. #9 by madisondeanfiction on February 4, 2013 - 8:34 am

    Reblogged this on Madison Dean Fiction and commented:
    I promise not to keep merely reblogging Kristen Lamb’s posts, but this one is a good one and it really resonated with me. :-) Well worth reading, and made me realize I needed to tweak a character’s too-early acceptance of his situation in the current WIP.

  6. #10 by John w Howell on February 4, 2013 - 8:45 am

    Always new learning on your page. I was born and raised in Detroit. Kid Rock and Eminem speak for all of us who loved; and at the same time couldn’t help but hate being there. Thanks for sharing this insight to character development. – John

  7. #11 by Stephen H. King (TOSK) on February 4, 2013 - 8:47 am

    I use Lose Yourself all the time to get myself psyched up for writing. You’re right that the song represents a dark, heavy, stark commandment to just press forward regardless. I hadn’t thought of considering it for my characters, but that’s a great idea.

  8. #12 by plaintain1 on February 4, 2013 - 8:47 am

    I’m a bit old fashioned but I prefer the old school rap – Grandmaster Flash’s true urban poetry/rap The Message -

    It’s like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder how I keep from going under….(2), broken glass everywhere, people pissing on the stairs like they just don’t care, I can’t take the smell, can’t take the noise, got no money to move out I guess I got no choice…

    But you’re right, rap of today and of the past is gritty and no-nonsense. The language used reflects this as it is spare and sparse and simple, and life at times, is like this. Thanks for the article.

  9. #13 by Kerry Ann on February 4, 2013 - 8:49 am

    My family laughs at me when I mention this, but I can see my novel’s book trailer/movie trailer played along to a certain song. Yes, I know I’m being ridiculous and reaching, but I can visualize the scenery, the characters going through their motions, the pain, the desire etched on their faces… I’ve started listening to the song each day before I sit down to type.

    And though I’m no great fan of rap, I respect Eminem as an artist. Poetry comes in many forms.

  10. #14 by Karen Rought on February 4, 2013 - 8:57 am

    Eminem is absolutely, by far, without a doubt my favorite artist ever. I’ve been saying it for years, until I was blue in the face, that people should pay more attention to him, especially writers. His lyricism is unrivaled (though perhaps that’s bias, but he is undoubtedly one of the greats), and we could all learn a thing or two from him. He has three or four minutes to tell us a story over the course of a song, and he does it beautifully, filling it with details and emotions that most people can’t capture over the course of an entire novel. I’ve been wanting to do a post on him, on why I think people should not only listen to him, but to rap music in general (some of it – definitely not all – even I don’t like a lot of it because it’s just…bad), but I struggled to come up with the words that would truly convince people to give him a chance. I’m glad that you wrote this post, as I’m hoping some people who follow you and trust you will go back and give him a listen. Even people who hate him should take stock and realize that he’s caused them to experience a strong emotion just based off of a couple of minutes of a song. And, gosh, there’s so much more I want to say, but I’m afraid I’m just going to start rambling. This post (it’s strange, I know) means a lot to me, so thank you very, very much for writing it. And I hope it opens up people’s eyes (and ears) and makes them want to experience something new by listening to him. Music can teach us so many things, and rap is no exception.

    • #15 by Author Kristen Lamb on February 4, 2013 - 9:02 am

      It’s funny you say this because I was actually hesitant to write the post. Was afraid people would be all like KRISTEN LAMB IS IN LEAGUE WITH THE DEVIL! But you are right. His songs are like “novel extract” and he boils down a story that takes us 70,000 words into less than four minutes of lyrics. Love him or hate him, THAT is talent.

  11. #16 by Lanette Kauten on February 4, 2013 - 9:16 am

    None of Eminem’s songs ever inspired me, but my first women’s fic was born from Tool’s “Sober”. Just the sounds without the lyrics is emotionally gripping.

  12. #17 by KM Huber on February 4, 2013 - 9:21 am

    A beautiful essay, Kristen, quite fine. In particular, I admire the weaving in of Eminem’s lyrics, for he is a talent and a storyteller, always a great combination in art. Truly, this is one of your most thought-provoking posts yet it’s also gentle on the mind. Well done.

    Karen

  13. #18 by amyskennedy on February 4, 2013 - 9:34 am

    It’s not pretty when I hear an Eminem song while driving, while I like to, on occasion, think of myself as gangsterish, there are too many rainbows and songbirds hanging around my psyche for true gangster. So there I am in my KIA Sorento, my head swinging back and forth, hands gesticulating, rapping at the top of my lungs…until the 14 yr. old says, “MOM!”

    Oh. But then he smiles and I go back to being gangsterish.

    I like to have a playlist for whatever I’m writing, and it’s weird, because I never know what will strike a chord. My YA is Florence + The Machine and Skillet, but my Contemporary Romance is a sweet mix of Lady Antebellum and Zac Brown Band…it is what it is.

  14. #19 by Thom Linehan on February 4, 2013 - 10:18 am

    I thought Eminem was a candy, who knew? Well I’m not that far in the dark ages but I doubt that I’ve ever listened to him, now I’ll put him on my Pandora station. Enough of this, but you have hit the nail on the head. Life is not all bubbles and ice cream. There’s always the alcohol, fights, disappointed teenagers, the wedding that caused more family trouble than an Irish wake, and on and on and on. The point that I see in all that you have posted (not just today, but every time) is that a writer needs to be unafraid to put it to paper.
    Of all the writing blogs that I read to help me hone my skills, I believe that yours is the best. Since you are not afraid to put it out there, it tells the writers, that read your post, that they must not be afraid to pen a story that tells the meaning of life.
    Keep u p the great work

  15. #20 by Christine Ashworth on February 4, 2013 - 10:34 am

    Now I need to expand my musical library and pick up some Eminem. Thanks, Kristen – I don’t have much rap in my mix.

    Excellent post!

  16. #21 by tgeorges1123 on February 4, 2013 - 11:29 am

    I’m so glad I found you. :) You’re a seriously incredible writer. And you have so many posts I need to catch up on! UNRELATED: My work productivity level just reached incredible new lows today.

    • #22 by Author Kristen Lamb on February 4, 2013 - 3:41 pm

      No, just different productivity. Learning new things is ESSENTIAL to great writing. It ALL counts ;).

  17. #23 by corajramos on February 4, 2013 - 11:30 am

    WoW post, Kristen. It surprised me, yes, I also didn’t think you would like Eminem. I am not a fan of rap but appreciate art in all (well maybe most) forms. I am glad you focused on this song so intensively by using the video. One can’t help but be moved–by the emotions we have all been through to a greater or lesser degree. You have made your writing points in a most powerful way.

  18. #24 by Kirsten on February 4, 2013 - 11:36 am

    Great post, Kristen. Music definitely helps draw out different and stronger emotions in my writing. What I listen to depends on what I’m writing, and what part of the story I’m writing, the black moment or the HEA. But this post has challenged me to look over my current wip and make sure my hero and heroine are suffering enough. :)

  19. #25 by Dave Stovall (@StovallDave) on February 4, 2013 - 12:03 pm

    Another great and timely post. I’ve been concerned my characters are a bit too normal and two dimensional. Thanks.

  20. #26 by babs50nfab on February 4, 2013 - 12:27 pm

    This was very enlightening. I have a lot in common with Eminem but can’t listen to rap…gives me a headache. I will definitely look for his lyrics though. I’m so glad I found your blog.
    Thanks!
    b

    • #27 by Author Kristen Lamb on February 4, 2013 - 12:40 pm

      Yeah, I can’t listen to too much and it needs to be mixed with other types of music or I just become pissed off at the world, LOL. But those emotions are valuable for fiction, even if we can’t “feel” this way all the time (and shouldn’t).

  21. #28 by SweetSong on February 4, 2013 - 1:15 pm

    Music is SO powerful, I can’t imagine anyone not being inspired by music at one point or another. When I’m writing, I like either silence or my “epic music” (mostly E.S. Posthumus and the Avatar Soundtrack), which is all instrumental. But as for being inspired by music? Almost anything. Rock songs, pop songs, country music… any genre really. Actually, that Love The Way You Lie song you referenced was inspiration for me. I’m not a huge rap fan, but I love that song. Something about it strikes a chord. I’ve found that music heavily influences my “space,” which heavily influences how and what I write.

  22. #29 by Dorcas Graham on February 4, 2013 - 1:28 pm

    Yes, yes! Powerful entry. I feel the same way about Eminem. I don’t just love all of his music but I do love a couple of his songs and Lose Yourself is definitely one of them. Powerful lyrics that paint such a brilliant picture of conflict and struggle.

    He once said in an interview he didn’t know what he’d be if not a rapper…well, I think he’d be a writer…oh wait…he is! It stories told in his lyrics definitely transcends to fiction writing. The only difference is that it’s wrapped in a different cover.

  23. #30 by sharonholly on February 4, 2013 - 1:35 pm

    My musical tastes are also diverse. I don’t think you can make sweeping generalizations about any one genre. Good music is good music!

    When I’m preparing for the writing, when the thoughts are still marinating, I like to listen to “mood music”. In my case, it was a lot of Linkin Park, Drowning Pool, and Muse among others.

    But while I was actually doing the writing, I needed instrumental music. Movie scores worked best for me, as they created the atmosphere without distracting me with lyrics.

    Great post! Couldn’t live without music :)

  24. #32 by Maggie Bolitho on February 4, 2013 - 2:32 pm

    Thanks for some great suggestions to add to my iPod.
    The background tune for the novel I’m working on now is Get Out of My Life Woman by the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. It’s raw and tortured, just like I hope my novel will be.

  25. #33 by dizzytangerine on February 4, 2013 - 2:37 pm

    I reference songs and lyrics in my writing sometimes to get a character’s state of mind across. Often the lyrics can translate it better than I ever could. Using music lyrics also lends a “third party” feeling to the writing, like it’s neither the character or the narrator providing the information.

    Metallica’s Sandman is one I just used the other day! Thanks for the post. Always enlightening…

  26. #34 by Diana Beebe on February 4, 2013 - 2:41 pm

    He really is good at what he does! Thanks for this post. I have to dig for those crazy moments from my past. Thankfully, my life doesn’t have angst anymore, but that does make it hard to dig up conflict in my writing sometimes. I have a rather ecclectic playlist when I’m writing.

  27. #35 by Gwen on February 4, 2013 - 3:35 pm

    I love Eminem, too – and that’s way out of character with my suburban-mom persona. Many people are offended by the f-bombs and such, but they jump on this defensive position without really listening to his message.

  28. #36 by Janet K Brown (@janetkbrowntx) on February 4, 2013 - 4:02 pm

    Love it, Kristen.

  29. #37 by Author Linda Nelson on February 4, 2013 - 4:33 pm

    I have to agree, I always write better when I listen to any type of music like Eminem when I’m writting Teen Contemporary. But when I go to my other genre of fantasy I have to listen to New Age stuff so I can catch the mystism.

  30. #38 by MaLinda Johnson on February 4, 2013 - 4:54 pm

    Neat parallels!! I too love Eminem.His story and his story lines are amazing.

    At the ends of my workdays, I sometimes feel like a rock star and like to listen to pop or metal.

  31. #39 by hcfbutton on February 4, 2013 - 4:58 pm

    Love the Eminem songs you picked! Another one I like by him is “Cleaning out My closets”. But when I want to be inspired, I often listen to Linkin Park (as someone already mentioned), Matthew Good (seriously, if you haven’t heard it listen to Weapon), Snow Patrol, Switchfoot. And of course, I love Jeff Buckley’s version of Hallelujah – could listen to that one track for hours… For the actual writing, I love soundtracks, but if you’re ever in the mood for something dramatic, I LOVE Apocalyptica, which started do cello versions of Metallica, but has an awful lot of different stuff. They’re so good you feel the songs while they play.

  32. #40 by danielocceno on February 4, 2013 - 5:34 pm

    When I do not have time restraints to worry about like trying to catch up to cross the 50K before the deadline, I like listening to music on YouTube. It helps me focus on the novel, which I am writing at the time. Since I like writing Political Action Thrillers and Mystery Suspense, I listen to the James Bond 007 Movie Theme and Hawaii Five-O theme (original) and Hawaii Five-O – Theme Song [Full Version] over and over along with Styx- Babe because my John Pate character uses a general’s hand gun, which his father named “Babe” because the general was always leaving the mother of John and the last departure was the reason he started working for the president to hunt down assassins of the president because the general was assassinated. Sheryl Crow – Tomorrow Never Dies and ADELE – Skyfall. When I am writing a romance novel, I listen to David Gates – Bread – Goodbye Girl and Skeeter Davis — The End Of The World. Real Life – Send Me An Angel (1983), because of my last three 50K novels with the third one I finished during JANO Writers 2013. I listen to Filipino music when I write Filipino characters and located at the Philippines. (POPS FERNANDEZ – DON’T SAY GOODBYE and Karylle & Jerome – Pagbigyan Ang Puso and Gotta Go My Own Way – Nikki Gil) I am currently trying to finish a romance “Radio Love”. I listen to “On The Radio” by Donna Summer and Jennifer Lopez – On The Radio. I can relate to music stimulating creativity.

  33. #41 by Amanda on February 4, 2013 - 6:35 pm

    Powerful post. I don’t really know any Eminem, I don’t think (although I will check iTunes now)–but the messages you list definitely resonate with me.

  34. #42 by Yvette Carol on February 4, 2013 - 7:45 pm

    Funny thing, you’ve got me here, because in the past I could never relate to people writing with music playing. It was something I hadn’t done. However, coincidentally, this weekend just past I was listening to some bangin’ rock & roll music and I made the choice to leave it playing rather than turn it off while I went back to my WIP. It was really a new experience for me. At times, it was like the music faded away and the story was all that was real, while at other times, the music crashed into first place and the story flowed on by itself… I’m going to try it again, with different kinds of music next.

  35. #43 by DebE on February 4, 2013 - 7:54 pm

    While, personally, I don’t fully identify with Eminem, I’ve always appreciated his place in the music scene – he’s a talent, there’s no doubt about that. And it’s not even that his lyrics don’t touch me… I think it may be a musical disconnect more than anything.
    However, I absolutely do have music I listen to to help me feel what I want to achieve with my own writing. I have a playlist I am always working to expand. Hence I have a Pandora playlist based on my starting songs to help me get new ideas. And I have developed a Youtube playlist of my favourite writing tunes which I have linked to from my website, just in case anyone else ever cares… Music has always been a huge part of my life. When I’m stressed, listening to music chills me out. When I’m feeling disconnected from my emotional core, listening to a few heart-wrenching tales can reel me back in.
    Best of all? It’s great to dance to!

  36. #44 by Kelly Miller on February 4, 2013 - 8:32 pm

    I don’t listen to much rap but I do love Eminem. His lyrics speak to me. In particular the song “Lose Yourself”. Before I pitched my first novel to agents at the Sleuthfest conference, I listened to the first few lines of this song on my ipod.

    “Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity
    To seize everything you ever wanted in one moment
    Would you capture it or just let it slip?”

    Pretty appropriate! it would pump me up like nothing else. Almost like my own personal little pep talk.

  37. #45 by Lin Barrett on February 4, 2013 - 8:42 pm

    I can’t listen to music while I write, period. Just can’t. Not even my beloved Ali Farka Toure.

    I’m listening to the music of the language on the page. I need to pay full attention to that. Another source of music, even if it’s not in English (Toure never sang in that language), merely distorts what I’m trying to get written.

  38. #46 by athenabrady.co.uk on February 4, 2013 - 10:55 pm

    I agree totally our characters need to be like real people and real people are flawed. in my third book which I am writing now, I explore the dark side of love and jealously.How the ego leads to to the worst aspects of ourselves and how we all deal differently with the consequences of our actions.

  39. #47 by Muse of Hell on February 5, 2013 - 2:20 am

    Thank you, Kristen. You have no idea how many people my age (60ish) look at me like I’ve lost my mind when I try to tell them how talented Eminem is. He has the ability to zero in on the actual problem between people and in society and write/rap about it with amazing acuity. Thank you for saying that our heroes must be flawed. One of the hardest things for me to learn when I left home and encountered the “real” world (as opposed to the fundamentalist one in which I was raised) was that there is almost never a “right and wrong” or “black and white” answer in life. It was quite a shock. Now, when I read something wherein the protagonist makes all the right moves and decisions, I am disappointed because they are not very real. I try to remember that when I write.

  40. #48 by creativityorcrazy on February 5, 2013 - 7:05 am

    It’s funny, I showed this post to my daughter, who so knows who Eminem is and likes a lot of his music. I listen to a wide variety of music and do like to listen to music while I write. I used to be strictly a country and bluegrass gal, but have been exposed to many different types of music by my daughter and other bloggers. I’m finding out there is much I like and like Enimen(though I will most likely never be a fan), I do like music that tells it like it is. Life is painful, but I’m done with sugar coatings.

  41. #49 by tjloveless3 on February 5, 2013 - 8:27 am

    I can’t write without music. I do have a few Eminems on the list, but it’s mostly filled with Linkin, Lifehouse, Dolly, Theory of a Deadman, Nickelback (don’t hate!), Seether, Ozzy, Buckcherry. Most of my work walks on the darkside of human choices, and the pounding tunes keep me in the mood.

  42. #50 by Professor Taboo on February 5, 2013 - 8:32 am

    I identify with music so profoundly I have a “Music” page and sub-pages to it with all the songs and artists that touch me. In sharing those feelings I hope my readers/visitors find a new perspective after listening and reading the lyrics. I have hundreds of favorites, but one particular song/artist that tells a deeply troubling and painful part of American history is “Don’t Drink the Water” by the Dave Matthews Band. It makes my eyes well-up and my heart swell every time I listen to it…then I’m reminded of just HOW RAW and REAL this life truly is and has been. I’m humbled.

  43. #51 by Michel King on February 5, 2013 - 11:57 am

    Actually, one of my greatest reminders of emotional trauma and growth potential is an old Buddhist allegory. In it humans are compared to the Lotus flower. It has to root itself in the mud and muck. The bud grows in tempid water surrounded by slime. As it grows, it strives toward the surface. Some make it, others don’t even start, and still others are trapped in between. Those that make it bloom and show the world that inside the mucked and slimed husk, there is a pristine beautiful flower. Of course this is representative of the path to enlightenment, but I tend to think of it in terms of character development. The characters that grow and develop and make it to the end of their arc, are fully bloomed flowers. Those that don’t are still stuck in some form of slime.

  44. #52 by Suzanne Vince on February 5, 2013 - 12:13 pm

    I’m a day late to the party, but BRAVO Kristen! I’ve lived through a lot in my 51 years and I use those experiences (or more accurately, the lessons I learned from those experiences) every day in my writing. I just never really thought about it. Thank you for having the courage to share part of yourself in almost every post.

  45. #53 by Stephen King on February 5, 2013 - 2:25 pm

    I couldn’t help it–I linked from my own blog post back to here. Thank you for a powerful message I could work my own thoughts into: http://theotherstephenkingonwriting.blogspot.com/2013/02/the-magical-lyrics-of-eminem.html

  46. #54 by Jennifer Joseph on February 6, 2013 - 8:33 am

    One of my favorite posts you’ve written and I like your examples. I am a huge fan of rap and Eminem.

  47. #55 by Martha Merrill Wills on February 6, 2013 - 9:29 am

    I listen to Eminem when I run. A true poet, he is. Loved this post.

  48. #56 by ennsanjana on February 6, 2013 - 10:07 am

    Goodness…each time I come to your blog, I feel as if you’ve stolen the thoughts out of me and typed them across your blog. I’ve always had this comaraderie with Eminem’s lyrics….oddly enough. And, of courss, I am the writer with a dramatic past present etc.

  49. #57 by Jeannine Johnson Maia on February 6, 2013 - 12:34 pm

    Not a big fan of rap, but after reading this I think I’ll brace myself to listen to a few of his songs — just like I brace myself when making one of my characters go through difficult experiences. Not always pleasant but revealing and worth it, and this post tells me “do it more and better”. Am sharing it with my SCBWI-Belgium colleagues. Thanks for this and your many other thought-provoking posts.

  50. #58 by Rachel Thompson on February 6, 2013 - 6:56 pm

    I work within any noise environment- very little stops me from writing. I’ve even written news stories as I sat and observed the event. The only thing that distracts me is a favorite song. Pink Floyd or Fleetwood Mac, or Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds make me pause but if the Talking Heads are on forget it, I ain’t working no more. However, I don’t need inspiration from music not my own to write fiction. (I’m a musician and painter, too.) I generate more ideas and observations than I can write. Everywhere I look there is story.

  51. #59 by Kasie Whitener on February 12, 2013 - 3:31 pm

    Okay, Kristen, just found this and can I tell you I love Eminem, too! Thanks for this. It’s going to show up in our #wschat tonight at 6 p.m. EST on Twitter. Hope you’ll get some hits, likes, and comments from the shout. Keep up the great work!

  52. #61 by Melinda on February 13, 2013 - 9:59 am

    Love the way you pull truths out of his songs. I always say I have an ecclectic music collection and it’s about as varied as yours. Instrumental music also helps me get in the mood for writing. There’s a classical piece for every emotion, I think.
    Thanks for the great ideas!
    Melinda

  53. #62 by Sherri on February 22, 2013 - 3:28 pm

    I’ve been instructing a class and now we are looking at this particular subject in the next week. I am directing my personal university scholar to consider your post once and for all details I have already been meaning to write something similar to this particular upabout my own web site and you’ve got given me a thought.

  54. #63 by DJ on February 24, 2013 - 1:09 am

    I don’t listen to Eminem, but good stuff here anyway–

  1. How Eminem Makes Me a Better Writer | Hunted & Gathered | Scoop.it
  2. How Eminem Makes Me a Better Writer | myers, cosmetology | Scoop.it
  3. The Magical Lyrics of Eminem | Download Download Songs
  4. Bloggers Block or Puddle of Muddle - Cora J Ramos, Author
  5. Puddle of Muddle or Bloggers Block - Cora J Ramos, Author
  6. Bloggers Block or Puddle of Muddle - Cora J Ramos, Author

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